Persons with mental illnesses account for significant proportion of caseload in primary care settings-Dr. Afzal Javed

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WPA ACTION PLAN 2021-23 meeting at Lahore 
Persons with mental illnesses account for
significant proportion of caseload in primary
care settings-Dr. Afzal Javed
Suicide is the 3wrd leading cause of 
death among adolescents-Waqar Azeem

By Dr. Nazish Imran

LAHORE: World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Working Group on Capacity Building 2021-23 Action Plan in collaboration with Pakistan Psychiatric Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry Sidra Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine (Doha, Qatar) Psychiatry Wellness Program and Psychiatry Department, Fatima Memorial Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan recently arranged a session with Medical students in Lahore, Pakistan. This was a capacity building session for the medical students. Session facilitators included International faculty from Sidra Medicine, Qatar led by Prof Waqar Azeem including, Dr. Ahsan Nazeer, Dr. Durre Shahwar & Dr. Muhammad Ather, Dr. Zeeshan from USA, Dr. Maryam Afzal from UK, Dr. Nasar Sayed From Canada along with local facilitators Prof Imran Ijaz Haider, Dr. Nazish Imran, Dr. Ali Hashmi to name a few.

Dr. Afzal Javed, President Elect WPA in his talk highlighted Psychiatry as a promising career for young graduates. He mentioned that Mental illnesses are major cause of disease burden globally and by the year 2020, Depression is predicted to be the second major cause of disability in the world after Ischaemic Heart Disease. Emphasizing the overlap between Medicine and Psychiatry, he stated that Psychiatry deals with disorders of thoughts, feelings and behaviours which can be considered as a ‘software’ for the body. If software is not functioning, it can manifest as any problem in the body so in fact psychiatrists need very good medical and surgical knowledge.


Dr. Nazish Imran, Prof. Waqar Azeem, Prof.Khalid Mufti, Dr. Afzal Javed President-elect
WPA, Dr. Ali Hashmi, Prof. Imran Ijaz Haider and some other distinguished faculty
members, participants photographed during session with Medical students
organized by WPA in Lahore recently.

Persons with mental illnesses account for significant proportion of caseload in primary care settings. Most often, these individuals present as common mental health problems or as a comorbid condition and are missed or inappropriately managed. The limited availability of specialist mental health human resources has been one of the barriers in providing essential mental health care to all. Dr. Afzal also talked about the nnegative image of psychiatry and psychiatrists, underestimation of psychiatry and unjustified prejudices from of the general public, mass media & healthcare professionals & Psychiatry’s own unfavourable coping with external and internal concerns. Looking at the burden of mental illnesses, he said that it is very important to make efforts for improving knowledge and foster positive attitude toward mental illnesses and psychiatry at the undergraduate level.

Awareness of the undergraduate medical students toward psychiatry, and psychiatric disorders he said was very important as they are future healthcare providers and going to be involved in the care of these patients either directly or indirectly during their careers. Case scenarios & videos were used to improve medical students’ knowledge of common mental illnesses and improving the attitude of medical students toward mental illness and psychiatry.


 Another highlight of program was session on student’s stress & Burnout conducted by Dr Ayesha Irfan Recent medical graduate, Salar Haider & Hafsa Amin (Medical students). An essential aspect of becoming a doctor is learning to be actively involved in taking care of one’s own health. However, student burnout and mental illness are increasing in Medical students. These are serious concerns, as they may lead to serious mental health illnesses, substance abuse, suicide and reduced quality of life. The session was followed by Panel discussion chaired by Prof. Khalid Mufti.

Child Mental Health, Autism
& Learning Disabilities

Another session during the conference was dedicated to Child Mental Health, Autism and Learning Disabilities which was held at Fountain House Lahore, Pakistan. Earlier the conference was inaugurated by President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi. In his address he pointed out that that despite the universal recognition of the importance of child and adolescent mental health for societies and individuals, the human and economic resources needed to meet the need are scarce. WPA President Elect Dr. Afzal Javed highlighted that Child & Adolescent mental health problems remain a pressing population health concern and there is recognition that there remains a wide gap between what is urgently needed to reduce the burden of child and adolescent mental health problems and available resources and services in child mental health field. In order to bridge this gap there is need to promote the mental health of all young people, whether or not they are suffering from mental health problems.

Dr. Durre Shahwar and Dr. Ahsan Nazeer from Sidra Medicine Qatar discussed Assessment and Management of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). They stated that there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of ASD around the world. Early detection has a positive impact on prognosis, in large part due to the fact that those children are able to benefit from early intervention.


Students participants at the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) Working Group on
Capacity Building 2021-23 Action Plan meeting held at Lahore photographed with
Dr. Afzal Javed President-elect of WPA and  
some faculty members,
facilitators at the workshop.

Dr. Zeeshan from USA talked about Infant Parent Mental Health. Infant Mental Health can be understood as the developing capacity of the 0-5-year-old child to experience, regulate and express emotions; form close and secure interpersonal relationships; and learn within the psychological balance of the parent-infant relational system, as well as their larger family, community and culture without serious disruption caused by harmful life events. He used still face experiment and concept of Ghosts and angels in Nursery to further explain the concepts.

Dr. Muhammad Ather discussed Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents. He explained various types of anxiety disorders which severely disrupt child functioning in various domains of life including academic achievements, peer and family relationships, leisure activities as well as functioning at home.

Dr. Nazish Imran, discussed assessment and management of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders in children throughout the world and accounts for 30-40% of referrals sent to child and adolescent psychiatrists. Persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity often extends into adulthood. These symptoms cause significant impairment in the normal functioning of children disrupting the child’s relationships with parents, siblings and peers while also decreasing their performance at school.


Prof. Waqar Azeem talked about Depression in children and adolescents. He stated that suicide is the 3rd leading reason of death among adolescents. Onset of Major depressive disorder is often in adolescence and is associated with much psychosocial impairment and high risk of suicide. He focused on extreme academic pressure as one of the leading causes of Depression in young people in Pakistan and need for Schools and Parents to work together for possible solutions.

The meeting was well attended with presence of senior consultants, Paediatricians, Postgraduate trainees, Psychologists and students. Professor Khalid Mufti and Prof Khalida Tareen were the Guest of honour on the occasion.

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